Intimate portraits of everyday heroism and suffering.

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A MEMOIR OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST MICHAEL C. RUPPERT, WITH AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT

A firsthand account of two lives that came to tragic ends.

Journalist Orkin (Ground Zero Wars, 2017, etc.) met investigative reporter Mike Ruppert in 2004 at a symposium marking the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and they later moved in together. Ten years later after their first meeting, after Ruppert committed suicide, Orkin began to produce blog entries, compiled in this book, as a way to explain his troubled state of mind. As she frankly states, “This is a flesh and blood, warts-and-all portrait written in the belief that in the end, Mike and his transcendent work and critically important ideas will prevail.” One of the more harrowing sequences involves Ruppert’s self-imposed exile in Venezuela, where he was alarmed by mysterious physical ailments and disillusioned with the country’s “Cuban-style medical system.” Here, the author includes a series of frantic emails, some her own, that effectively capture an escalating sense of confusion and panic. Some readers may be put off by Orkin’s nonstandard capitalization in these exchanges, but overall, this is a minor issue, as is the blog posts’ occasional deviation from chronological order. For instance, there’s a eulogy for Ruppert in the middle of the text and an account of the author’s first meeting with her subject at the very end. The lion’s share of the book recounts the period after Ruppert’s return to the United States, when he lived with the author in Brooklyn Heights in New York City. Readers will enjoy Orkin’s more deliberative style here, featuring solid narration and revealing dialogue, as she tells of how Ruppert’s mental health struggles and painful physical issues tested their relationship; it contrasts sharply with previous, hastily composed correspondence. The book also includes a much shorter work that’s devoted to Orkin’s mother’s life and final months. It opens with the author’s poignant assertion that her parent “did not go gentle into that good night.” Many will identify with the author’s feelings of helplessness and frustration in the face of woefully inadequate health care and social services systems. Her story of the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease may be universal in nature, but the specific details are powerful. 

Intimate portraits of everyday heroism and suffering.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5007-7161-4

Page Count: 328

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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